Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Okura Project Hits a Snag

Okura Hotel project hits a snag
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

GUAM Okura Hotel’s $30 million grand expansion project has been suspended due to funding shortage, according to one of the vendors who have been owed hundreds of thousands for supplies and materials.

Clayton Duvall, manager of the Quality Swimming Pools, said all work on the project came to a halt on Sept. 6 because “no money is flowing in” and GC Corp., the main contractor, has been unable to pay its subcontractors and vendors.

Duvall said subcontractors and vendors have been trying to collect payments from GC Corp. for two months now but all they have received was a plea for patience and “a little more time.”

“We are being kept in the dark. We’re all sitting here holding the bag. We’re not being given substantial information as to the status of the contract and they’re not telling us when we’re going to get paid,” said Duvall, whose company is owed $125,000 for swimming pool supplies and materials.

Subcontractors and vendors were expecting to receive their payments from GC Corp., which is believed to have been provided full funding from Okura.

Duvall said the hotel owners suspect that the general contractor may have spent the fund elsewhere.

“So the bottom line is, Okura owners apparently are not ready to release any further fund to the contractors until they come to Guam and determine just what is going on,” Duvall stated in an e-mail to one of the subcontractors.

Mark L. Day, director of Guam Resorts Inc. which operates the Okura Hotel in Tumon, declined to comment. “I don’t have a hold on the situation right now to be able to comment,” Day told Variety.

Variety’s call for Myung Il Kim, GC Corp. general manager, had not been returned as of press time.

In his e-mail to Duvall, Day said Okura is “still in the process of discussion with GC Corporation.”

“It is the intention of both parties to reach an agreement with respect to the ongoing project, but a concrete means of alleviating GC’s financial issues has not been met as this time,” Day said.

Although the discussion with GC Corp. was “progressing,” Day could not tell when payments can be made, saying that “in this situation, a solution is not as rapid as one wishes it to be.”

Among the other subcontractors with collectibles are Conwood, which is owed $200,000; Hawaiian Rock, $250,000; Leed Electric $50,000; Universal AC $50,000; and Pacific Hydronics and Systems, $200,000.

No information about the status of construction workers was available as of press time. Labor investigator Roman Quinata said the Department of Labor has not received any complaint related to the Okura construction project.

The Okura Hotel expansion project, which commenced about three months ago, first hit a snag in late July when local activists called for a stop on excavations at the project site, where over 200 ancient human remains were found.

Guam Resorts Inc.’s suspended project involved the construction of what owners described as “unparalleled luxury destination resort” that would cater to “affluent” and “sophisticated” tourists.

The design includes 23 luxury villas, individual swimming pools and Jacuzzis overlooking the ocean, a wedding chapel, and restaurants that would serve international cuisine.

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